Digital Media Concepts/Competitive Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the sixth iteration of the Super Smash Bros series for Nintendo. While the game provides a plethora of game modes, in-game collectibles, and other features within the game, the competitive community of Super Smash Bros Ultimate alone is full of its own layers to dive into.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Logo

History of Competitive Super Smash Bros edit

Super Smash Bros. Melee in a Gamecube

The original intentions of Masahiro Sakurai, the head director and creator of the Super Smash Bros series, was to create fun party games enjoyable for players of all skill levels. It was not until the second game of the series, Super Smash Bros Melee, that a competitive scene was beginning to form. The first tournaments to exist for Super Smash Bros Melee were held in 2002. These were unprofessionally ran and contained controversy due to clashing ideas for rule sets until Matt Dahlgren came up with a rule set that is similar to the one used in current fundamental rule sets. By March of 2003, The International Video Game Federation hosted the first corporation sponsored tournament. By 2004 Major League Gaming (MLG) added Melee to their pro circuit, solidifying the existence of the competitive Super Smash Bros community. From there, the community has been able to assemble and host numerous tournaments for Super Smash Bros game in the series. This includes: Super Smash Bros 64, Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Project M, Super Smash Bros 4 Wii U, and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Tournaments that were once held in the personal homes of passionate players have now transformed into enormous competitions at large venues filled with professional gamers from around the world, substantial prize money for competitors, and a diverse fan base that unites strangers in a unique way. A Super Smash Bros Documentary has been released as well, giving individuals unfamiliar with the competitive scene of Super Smash Bros easy access to its history.

Tournaments and Rules edit

While Super Smash Bros Ultimate consists of multiple game modes and in-game features, such as tournament game mode and items, the competitive community sticks to a particular style of play. For most major tournaments, the general rules for Singles are:

Set Length

  • Best of 3 (Until Top 32)
  • Best of 5 (Only for Top 32)

Set Procedure

  • Players select their character
  • Winner of rock-paper-scissors chooses starting stage OR Both players "Gentleman" to one stage
  • Players play the first game of the set
  • Losing player selects the next stage to play on after winning player selects a stage to deem "banned"
  • Winning player may choose to change their character
  • Losing player may choose to change their character afterwards
  • Players play the next game
  • Steps 4-8 repeated until there is a winner of the set

Starter Stages

  • Battlefield
  • Final Destination
  • Pokémon Stadium 2
  • Smashville

Counterpick Stages

  • Town & City
  • Kalos Pokémon Leauge
  • Unova Pokémon Leauge
  • Yoshi's Island

Game Settings

  • Stock: 3
  • Timer: 7:00
  • Launch Rate: 1.0x
  • Show Damage: Yes
  • All other settings set to 'OFF'

Almost all tournaments in the competitive community use rules similar to this. This includes locals, or smaller scale tournaments held in many cities, as well as majors and super majors, or tournaments held on a much larger scale that typically consists of elite players around the world. Examples of some majors and super majors include:

Notable Players edit

Similar to how athletic sports have individuals who are consistently regarded as one of the best in their game, there are competitive Super Smash Bros players who have made a name for themselves through their own game. Because it is near impossible for every elite player to face off against every other elite player, there is no definitive way of telling who is the best player or rank the best players of Super Smash Bros Ultimate. It is through tournament results, however, that individuals can climb the ranks of the competitive community and become recognized, sponsored, and even adored. Some of these elite players include:

  • Leonardo Perez - "MKLeo"
  • Gavin Dempsey - "Tweek"
  • Tyler Martin - "Marss"
  • Ezra Morris - "Samsora"
  • Shuto Moriya - "Shuton"
  • Samuel Buzby - "Dabuz"
  • Nairoby Quezada - "Nairo"
  • James Makekau-Tyson - "VoiD"
  • Paris Ramirez - "Light"
  • Brian Kalu - "Cosmos"

Character Tier Lists edit

One of the most controversial discussions within the Super Smash Bros Ultimate community are character tier lists. A tier list is a general template or ranking system that classifies the overall quality or utility of subsets (ex. characters) within a larger category (ex. playable Super Smash Bros Ultimate characters). For example, an individual who wants to express their opinions of the best fast food restaurants may create a tier list such as:

S Tier: Wendy's, Chick Fil A, In N Out
A Tier: Chipotle, Sonic's
B Tier: McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, Panda Express, Carl's Jr
C Tier: Arby's, Jack in the Box

When analyzing a tier list, the general things to understand is that the subsets of highest quality or utility (in this case S Tier restaurants Wendy's, Chick Fil A, and In N Out) are displayed at the top while the subsets of lowest quality or utility (in this case C Tier restaurants Chipotle and Sonics) are displayed at the bottom. It is also important to understand that tier lists are subjective to the creator of the list. Just because the creator of this tier list ranks Wendy's over Arby's does not mean it is the superior restaurant necessarily. Regardless of the methods used to create a tier list, it is important to remember that a tier list is never a definitive orientation of what is being compared.

Tier lists help serve as an important reference for skill in Super Smash Bros. If a beginner decides to pick up the game and wants to learn how to play with an easy or winnable character, tier lists can help guide them into choosing a viable fighter. When trying to demonstrate how much more skillful one is, an individual may want to refer to a tier list to choose a worse character. Overall, tier lists allows players to have an understanding of their own ability apart from character ability. Because tier lists are biased by nature, members in the competitive smash community often struggle to agree on character tier lists for Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Some common components that are taken into consideration when creating these tier lists usually include tournament placements, popularity, and match-up advantages and disadvantages. While these may be the some of the most important factors to consider when making tier lists for characters, they each provide their own unique flaws. Character quality can be measured by how high they get placed in tournaments (ex. 1st Place of EVO 2019 uses Joker), however this in turn does not take into consideration the skill of the player. Popularity of a character may mean that many players agree that a character is strong, but other factors, such as a preexisting love for a character, may also be an underlying root unaccounted for. Fundamental match-ups may be able to showcase which characters should beat other characters in theory (ex. sword-using characters beat close-combat characters), however the large character roster makes theorizing character match-ups almost irrelevant in practice. In previous Super Smash Bros games, tier lists are agreed upon much easier than Ultimate. In Super Smash Bros Melee tier lists, it is almost universally understood that Fox is the best character in the game. It is also agreed that Falco, Marth, Sheik, and Jigglypuff follow right behind. With Ultimate's incredibly full roster (78 and counting) and relatively recent release, it will take a considerable amount of time before tier lists are agreed upon as they are in games such as Melee.

Advanced Language and Concepts edit

Just like any other complex game, subject, or idea, within the Super Smash Bros Ultimate community lies "jargon". Most of this "jargon" was developed when the competitive smash community first formed during Melee and was not recognized by game developers until Ultimate. Some of these phrases and concepts include:

Dash Dancing running back and forth in the dash animation (usually used to keep next move unpredictable)
Wave Landing preforming an air-dodge above a surface right before hitting the surface to create a gliding animation (used to maintain better control of character)
Edge Guarding attacking a player offstage (an aggressive style used to make recovering back on stage harder)
Ledge Trapping waiting for a plater to get on stage to immediately strike back (a passive style used to make recovering back on stage harder)
0 to Death depleting one of a player's stocks (lives) without receiving a hit or taking damage
3 Stock defeating a player with three stocks (lives) left (can take form of 2 stock, 4 stock, etc.)
JV 3 Stock defeating a player with 2 perfect stocks (lives) left untouched (can take form of JV 2 stock, JV 4 stock, etc.)
SDI (Smash Directional Influence) changing the launched direction of one's character when being hit (used to avoid being hit into a blast zone)
LSI (Launch Speed Influence changing the launch speed of one's character when being hit (used to avoid being hit into a blast zone)
Neutral a state in which neither player controls a positional advantage or disadvantage
Advantage a state in which one player controls a positional advantage (usually meaning center stage or closer to center stage than opponent) or is in mid-combo
Disadvantage a state in which one player is either stuck in a combo, offstage, or a position less advantageous (usually meaning the stage ledge or further from center stage)
Whiff Punish prompting a player to commit to a desired attack in an attempt to immediately counter with another attack
Stage Teching pressing a shield button when hitting the stage to buffer launch speed and direction (used to avoid stage spikes and prolonged combos)
Styling preforming unnecessary movements, taunts, or attacks in attempt to display skill or tease opponent (successful styling usually ends in a kill)

External Links edit

Official Super Smash Bros Ultimate Website

IGN's Ultimate Tier Lists

Pro Guide's Ultimate Tier List

Upcoming Ultimate Tournaments

References edit

"Super Smash Bros Ulitmate," accessed September 20, 2019,

"Super Smash Bros Ultimate," accessed September 20, 2019,

Disclaimer edit

Most information within this article was derived through provided external links and similar sources.